A.L.I.C.E. training tactics help in Florida library shooting


A.L.I.C.E. Training

Kelly Kalich was on the third floor of Strozier Library at Florida State University about midnight Thursday studying why school shootings happen when someone ran up the stairs and yelled out, “There’s a gunman, there’s a gunman,” she told CNN Thursday.

Kalich told CNN that she grabbed her phone and ran out while other students shoved tables and bookshelves against doors to barricade themselves.

“Nothing goes through your head besides astonishment,” Kalich told CNN. “Your jaw drops because…when you’re in a large place like that, that’s always your biggest fear.”

Police identified the gunman as Myron May, a 2005 graduate of FSU. Three students were wounded in the shooting and one is in critical condition at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, the hospital said.

Florida State University students such as Kalich said they followed active shooter training techniques taught through the A.L.I.C.E. training program that allows students at universities nationwide to appropriately respond to an active shooter situation. The program, also offered at Kent State, was last taught at FSU on Oct. 15.

According to A.L.I.C.E. guidelines, FSU students were alerted, informed and evacuated — three techniques students are taught through the training.

Kent State’s A.L.I.C.E. training is free and open to all students. In 2009, Kent State required faculty and staff to take an interactive, 90-minute workshop about what to do during active shooter incidents. In 2010, Kent State required freshmen enrolled in the First Year Experience course to attend these workshops.

The A.L.I.C.E. workshops are “lockdown procedures on steroids,” said Michquel Penn, Kent State University police community liaison. Penn teaches the A.L.I.C.E. training sessions at Kent State.

The workshop includes lecture, demonstration and direct student involvement.

A.L.I.C.E. in action at Kent State

Last April, 7,000 faculty, staff members and students attended the A.L.I.C.E. workshops after Kent State freshman Quavaugntay Tyler fired a gun in the Bowman Hall parking lot, causing a three-hour campus lockdown.

“With the incident that we had on campus back in April, I had people email me afterward and say what they were able to do and how they felt,” Penn said. “We saw a picture that people tweeted of their barricades and messages that said ‘the best part of A.L.I.C.E. is getting to use what you learned.’”

Video by Yujing Yu

Lieutenant Joseph Hendry, active shooter response expert and consultant to the Ohio Department of Homeland Security, said last semester’s shooting incident was an impetus for people to be educated about what to do in an active shooter situation.

“The demand for classes began to increase,” he said. “The more we taught, the more people wanted to come to class. When we had the incident on April 2, I think that was the fulcrum where everything totally tipped over and now it’s become mandatory for incoming freshmen.”

According to surveys students were able to take after attending the workshop, reactions were positive, with comments such as “the trainer not being afraid to show us what to actually do and allow a student to demonstrate,” “tips on how to distract shooter and how not to be a static target” and “most helpful was how to take down a shooter” when asked about the most valuable or helpful component of the workshop.

“A.L.I.C.E., in my opinion, really enhances lockdown. It gives additional options other than locking down and sheltering in place,” Penn said. “We watch a video and we look at some data from past incidents.”

Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate

Hendry said the average law enforcement response time to an active shooter incident is five to six minutes. At FSU, police came within three to five minutes of the first reports of gunfire, according to CNN. In those crucial moments, A.L.I.C.E. prepares people to evacuate the scene if possible.

“Windows are just doors waiting to happen,” he said. “You can get out a second floor window and hang from the ledge rather than just jumping.”

A.L.I.C.E. advises to commence lockdown if the room is impossible to evacuate, barricading doors to allow for movement and countermeasures inside the room, Hendry said.

As a last resort, A.L.I.C.E. advises direct contact, countering the intruder with objects in the room or using chaos against the gunman, Hendry said.

During school visits, Hendry said he has seen students shielding themselves with textbooks. When he asked them why they had books on their heads, they said most people in active shooter incidents are shot in the head.

“That is true, but I’m like, throw the textbooks, move, get out of the room, do whatever you have to do to survive, but sitting on the floor with a math book on your head thinking it is going to keep you safe is a fallacy,” he said.

Effects of Kent State’s A.L.I.C.E. training

Kent State has provided students and staff with A.L.I.C.E. training and workshops for five-and-a half years.

In dealing with dangerous intruders, Hendry said A.L.I.C.E. prepares students to react.

“These guys use all kinds of weapons,” he said. “They use knives, bombs, gasoline, guns — there’s even been an incident with a chainsaw in the United States.”

Renee Romine, director of Human Resources Training and Development at Kent State, has spent 11 years working in human resources training at the university. While training sessions, which typically hold between 30 and 40 people, are geared toward students, Romine said the workshops serve to inform faculty and staff.

Hendry said approximately 15,000 people have been trained at Kent State, and said he has never received negative feedback.

Sophomore psychology major Brianna McCaskey said she completed A.L.I.C.E. training last fall after her friends encouraged her to take the class.

“The first thing I would do in an emergency situation is run and try to get away,” she said. “I would make decisions that would save my life instead of just reverting back to my fear and hiding in a corner somewhere.”

Although she doesn’t anticipate an emergency situation on campus, McCaskey said her training helped prepare her. In her class, she said she learned that most campus shooters don’t have good aim, and that by running the “zigzag,” students increase the shooter’s likeliness to miss.

Contact Hilary Crisan at [email protected] and Joanna Kamvouris at [email protected].